ON the very weekend that communities are encouraged to come together to honour the memory, and legacy, of Jo Cox, it is humbling that Bernard Kenny – the pensioner badly injured as he rushed to the aid of the dying MP – is awarded the George Medal for his bravery and heroism.
The award’s prestige reflects Mr Kenny’s selflessness as he tried, vainly, to stop the neo-Nazi Thomas Mair from attacking the Batley and Spen MP outside a constituency surgery in Birstall a year ago. This is the same honour awarded posthumously to Pc Keith Palmer, the policeman stabbed to death outside Parliament in April.
It’s also heartening that Craig Nicholls and Jonathan Wright, the two unarmed police officers who risked their safety to arrest Mair, have been awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal – they could not be more deserving recipients – and that Sandra Major, the late Mrs Cox’s constituency case worker, has been made a MBE.
Their unassuming modesty is worthy of wider recognition and it is gratifying that the centenary of the creation of the Order of the British Empire has been used to broaden the reach of the Queen’s Birthday Honours so that the list is more reflective of modern society.
Yet, as the nation reels from three terrorist attacks and now the Grenfell Tower inferno, it goes without saying that the next list should be devoted, almost exclusively, to all those people from all walks of life whose heartfelt response to these tragedies has epitomised the very best of Britain. Whether it be their courage rescuing the injured, tending to the dying or offering support to the victims, it’s only right that the country recognises this humanity.